Tag: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

New Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs Share Dance Floor Friendly and Feral “Wolf”

Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Karen O. (vocals), Nick Zinner (keys, guitar, drum machine, bass) and Brian Chase (drums) — released their long-awaited and highly-anticipated fifth album Cool It Down earlier this year through Secretly Canadian. The eight-song album is an expert distillation of the band’s gifts that will impel the listener to move, cry, and listen closely.  

“To all who have waited, our dear fans, thank you, our fever to tell has returned, and writing these songs came with its fair share of chills, tears, and euphoria when the pain lifts and truth is revealed,” Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O wrote in a statement to the band’s fans. “Don’t have to tell you how much we’ve been going through in the last nine years since our last record, because you’ve been going through it too, and we love you and we see you, and we hope you feel the feels from the music we’ve made. No shying away from the feels, or backing down from what’s been gripping all of us these days. So yes we’ve taken our time, happy to report when it’s ready it really does just flow out.”

“The record is called Cool It Down which is snagged from a lesser known Velvet Underground song. I told Alex Prager whose photo graces our record cover that her image speaks to sweeping themes in the music and sums up how I, Karen, feel existentially in these times! But there’s always more to the story. . . “

Cool It Down‘s first single, the Dave Sitek-produced “Spitting Off the Edge of the World,” featuring Perfume Genius is a slow-burning and cathartic power ballad centered around glistening and droning synths, Chase’s thunderous drumming, a distortion-driven guitar solo by Zinner, arena rock friendly hooks paired with the lush interplay between Karen O’s and Perfume Genius imitable vocals. Sonically “Spiting Off The Edge of the World” to my ears sounds like a slick yet subtle synthesis of Show Your Bones and It’s Blitz! — and as a result, the song is simultaneously urgent yet an exercise in restraint. 

Lyrically, the song reflects on the current state of the environment, and the need for honesty about the damage we’re inflicting on the Earth. “I see the younger generations staring down this threat, and they’re standing on the edge of a precipice, confronting what’s coming with anger and defiant,” Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O explains. “It’s galvanizing and there’s hope there.” 

The album’s second single., the Andrew Wyatt-produced “Burning” is a dance floor anthem built over a twinkling piano loop inspired by The Four Seasons’ “Beggin’” and features Zinner’s fiery guitar sprawl, thumping beats, Chase’s funky drum patterns pared with Karen O’s imitable croons and shouts. The song captures the Karen O being engulfed in the tumult and unrest of Los Angeles in 2020 — with fire and smoke bearing down on the city and everything its in path. Sonically, the song sounds like a subtle refinement of It’s Blitz!-era YYYs that nods at Fever to Tell.

“Back when I was 19 living in the East Village, one night a roommate dragged me out of the apartment for an impromptu drink across the street,” Karen O writes. “I left a votive candle burning on a plastic yaffa block which, in my absence set flame to my room. Within an hour and-a half of having one drink down the block, firefighters had come and gone extinguishing the fire. I came home to find that a natural disaster had occurred (to my room) and most of my stuff, lost in the flames. All electronic goods were melted and demolished like my laptop, cameras etc. but oddly enough the items that held the most sentimental value remained intact like sketchbooks, a favorite sweater with hearts across the chest, and photographs. I had photos of my parents in their youth where the fire burnt around the two of them as if there was some intangible force field protecting them, many photos like that, mysteriously leaving the beloved subjects untouched.”

If the world is on fire I hope the most beloved stay protected and that we do all we can to protect what we cherish most in this life. ‘Burning’ is a song about that feeling, smoke signals for the soul. Begging to cool it down, just doing it the best we know how. Nick and I nodded to Frankie Valli’s ‘Begging’, with the line ‘oooh lay your red hand on me baby.’ We’ve cut a rug to many a soulful sixties bangers in our day, it was in our DNA by the time we wrote ‘Burning’.”

Cool It Down‘s third and latest single “Wolf” is a pulsating, It’s Blitz!-meets-Giorgio Moroder-like club banger centered around glistening synth arpeggios, thumping four-on-the-floor paired with Karen O’s imitable delivery expressing yearning vulnerability, longing, and feral lust within the turn of a phrase.

Directed by Allie Avital, the accompanying video stars Severances Britt Lower as a bored and frustrated wife, who rediscovers the wild within — and without. Lower’s performance in which we see her quickly move from bored, frustrated and hemmed in to completely wild — and with teeth bared sees her carrying the emotional weight of the video.

“It was our great fortune to collaborate with the powerhouses Allie and Brit on this video for ‘Wolf.’ Allie casts a spell with the gorgeous world she weaves — always with teeth that bite, and Brit embodies all the contradictions in the themes of ‘Wolf,’ so enamored with her performance that’s got as much heaven as it does hell,” Karen O. says of the accompanying video. “We were beside ourselves with excitement when Allie cast Brit as the lead in the video, YYYs are serious nerds for Severance, what luck when the stars align.”

“’Wolf’ has so much narrative built into the lyrics, and it was such a dream to delve into these themes of hunger, connection, and wildness,” Allie Avital says. “Britt Lower and I used a movement-based technique to play with the nuances of this character as she seeks various forms of connection and moves from feeling trapped to wild to rediscovering a new form of intimacy with her husband. As a director, it’s rare to find such open minded artists like Karen, Nick, and Brian and I’m so grateful they put so much trust in our creative process.”

“When I heard the title of the song and description of the role were both ‘WOLF’ it was a full body ‘yes.’ To get to work on a story about a woman discovering the wild within and without was a dream. And to do so alongside legend Karen O….I mean, I’m speechless,” Britt Lower says.

New Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs Share Cinematic and Feverish Visual for Dance Floor Friendly “Burning”

After teasing their first new bit of music in over nine — nine! — years, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Karen O. (vocals), Nick Zinner (keys, guitar, drum machine, bass) and Brian Chase (drums) — announced their long-awaited and highly anticipated fifth album, Cool It Down last month. 

Cool It Down is slated for a September 30, 2022 release through Secretly Canadian and features cover photography by Alex Prager. The eight-song album reportedly is an expert distillation of the band’s gifts and will impel the listener to move, cry and listen closely. 

“To all who have waited, our dear fans, thank you, our fever to tell has returned, and writing these songs came with its fair share of chills, tears, and euphoria when the pain lifts and truth is revealed, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O wrote in a statement to the band’s fans. “Don’t have to tell you how much we’ve been going through in the last nine years since our last record, because you’ve been going through it too, and we love you and we see you, and we hope you feel the feels from the music we’ve made. No shying away from the feels, or backing down from what’s been gripping all of us these days. So yes we’ve taken our time, happy to report when it’s ready it really does just flow out.”

“The record is called Cool It Down which is snagged from a lesser known Velvet Underground song. I told Alex Prager whose photo graces our record cover that her image speaks to sweeping themes in the music and sums up how I, Karen, feel existentially in these times! But there’s always more to the story. This is how our new story begins, we present to you with heads bowed and fists in the air ‘Spitting Off the Edge of the World’ featuring Perfume Genius.

Cool It Down‘s first single, the Dave Sitek-produced “Spitting Off the Edge of the World,” featuring Perfume Genius is a slow-burning and cathartic power ballad centered around glistening and droning synths, Chase’s thunderous drumming, a distortion-driven guitar solo by Zinner, arena rock friendly hooks paired with the lush interplay between Karen O’s and Perfume Genius imitable vocals. Sonically “Spiting Off The Edge of the World” to my ears sounds like a slick yet subtle synthesis of Show Your Bones and It’s Blitz — and as a result, the song is simultaneously urgent yet an exercise in restraint. 

Lyrically, the song reflects on the current state of the environment, and the need for honesty about the damage we’re inflicting on the Earth. “I see the younger generations staring down this threat, and they’re standing on the edge of a precipice, confronting what’s coming with anger and defiant,” Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O explains. “It’s galvanizing and there’s hope there.” 

The album’s second single., the Andrew Wyatt-produced “Burning” is a dance floor anthem built over a twinkling piano loop inspired by The Four Seasons’ “Beggin’” and features Zinner’s fiery guitar sprawl, thumping beats, Chase’s funky drum patterns pared with Karen O’s imitable croons and shouts. The song captures the Karen O being engulfed in the tumult and unrest of Los Angeles in 2020 — with fire and smoke bearing down on the city and everything its in path. Sonically, the song sounds like a subtle refinement of It’s Blitz!-era YYYs that nods at Fever to Tell.

“Back when I was 19 living in the East Village, one night a roommate dragged me out of the apartment for an impromptu drink across the street,” Karen O writes. “I left a votive candle burning on a plastic yaffa block which, in my absence set flame to my room. Within an hour and-a half of having one drink down the block, firefighters had come and gone extinguishing the fire. I came home to find that a natural disaster had occurred (to my room) and most of my stuff, lost in the flames. All electronic goods were melted and demolished like my laptop, cameras etc. but oddly enough the items that held the most sentimental value remained intact like sketchbooks, a favorite sweater with hearts across the chest, and photographs. I had photos of my parents in their youth where the fire burnt around the two of them as if there was some intangible force field protecting them, many photos like that, mysteriously leaving the beloved subjects untouched.”

If the world is on fire I hope the most beloved stay protected and that we do all we can to protect what we cherish most in this life. ‘Burning’ is a song about that feeling, smoke signals for the soul. Begging to cool it down, just doing it the best we know how. Nick and I nodded to Frankie Valli’s ‘Begging’, with the line ‘oooh lay your red hand on me baby.’ We’ve cut a rug to many a soulful sixties bangers in our day, it was in our DNA by the time we wrote ‘Burning’.”

Directed by the band’s longtime collaborator Cody Critcheloe a.k.a. Ssion, the accompanying video is cinematically shot fever dream that nods at 60s B movies, West Side Story and Los Angeles low-rider culture before ending with the video’s protagonist staring at a raging conflagration.

New Video: Danger Mouse and Black Thought Team Up with A$AP Rocky and Run The Jewels on a Glitchy Roller Coaster Visual for “Strangers”

Danger Mouse (born Brian Burton) is arguably one of the most versatile and prolific artists and producers in music right now: As an artist he has been one-half of Broken Bells and Grammy Award-winning Gnarls Barkley. He has recorded collaborative albums with  Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ Karen O and the late, legendary MF DOOM. As a producer, he has worked with AdeleU2The Black KeysGorillazRed Hot Chili PeppersMichael KiwanukaParquet Courts and a lengthy list of others. 

Black Thought (born Tariq Trotter) is a co-founder and frontman of Grammy Award winning, pioneering hip-hop act The Roots. Trotter is also an accomplished solo artist who has released a critically applauded album and two EPs: 2020’s Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Able and 2018’s Streams of Thought Vol. 1 EP and Streams of Thought Vol. 2 EP, which helped further his reputation among the cognoscenti — and real hip hop heads — as one of the dopest emcees to ever spit bars. Adding to a lengthy list of accolades and accomplishments, Trotter has acted in film and theater, along with having writing and producer credits.

The acclaimed duo’s long-rumored, long-awaited and highly-anticipated joint album Cheat Codes officially dropped today through BMG. While Cheat Codes simultaneously marks Danger Mouse’s first hip-hop album since 2005’s DANGERDOOM with MF DOOM and the follow-up to Black Thoughts’ solo trilogy Streams of Thought, their collaboration can be traced back almost almost 20 years earlier: Trotter and Burton first met back in 2005. They started working on material — but time went on, life happened, other projects and obligations came up. 

Following 2004’s acclaimed The Grey Album, Burton became one of the most in-demand and prolific producers of the day, helming several commercially and critically successful projects, which led to a bevy of accolades and awards. He also developed collaborations with a unique and eclectic array of artists while expanding upon and honing his own musicianship, production and writing. 

During that same period of time, The Roots released a batch of critically applauded albums and became the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon then The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Trotter released his aforementioned, critically applauded solo trilogy Streams of Thought. He collaborated with the likes of EminemJohn LegendPusha T.Griselda, and a list of others. He wrote, composed and starred in the widely-praised off-Broadway show Black No More. And adding to a lengthy list of accomplishments, he co-produced a TV series with his Roots bandmate Questlove

Each mistakenly thought that the other had moved on and their collaboration just died, but as it turned out, neither one never stopped wanting to work together. Burton had long felt an instinctive need to return to his roots and make a timeless hip-hop album. He knew that Trotter was one of the few emcees truly capable of fulfilling that vision. Simultaneously, Trotter was seeking a space, where he could express himself musically and creatively beyond the confines and structures of his own band. 

This time, Burton was a far more seasoned songwriter and producer, Trotter an even more extraordinary emcee.  So, setting aside all distractions, Burton played Trotter some new music he had had. The ideas and words quickly flowed — and the experience was liberating. 

Meticulously built over a period of several years, Cheat Codes finds Burton pushing widescreen, soul-infused hip-hop soundscapes to new directions paired with Trotter’s commanding presence, incisive lyricism and dexterous wordplay. Unlike the typical producer-meets-rapper/side project, Cheat Codes is an effort between two like-minded collaborators, who raise each other’s games to new heights. 

The album also features an equally acclaimed cast of guests including A$AP Rocky,Run The Jewels, MF DOOM, Michael Kiwanuka, Joey Bada$$RussRaekwon, and Conway the Machine

So far I’ve written about three Cheat Codes singles: 

No Gold Teeth,” which featured a warm and dusty psych soul-like production that brings RZAPete Rock, and DJ Premier to mind, that serves as a lush bed for Black Thought’s dense, rapid fire, lyrical deluge. 

Because,” which features a slow-burning, psych soul-inspired production paired with a vocal hook by Dylan Cartlidge. While being another example of the deep and uncannily innate simpatico shared between the two acclaimed collaborators, “Because” is chock full of dope bars, impressive wordplay and mind-blowing inner and outer rhyme schemes in an easy-going yet urgent cypher between Black Thought, Joey Bada$$ and Russ, that weaves in and out of the political and the personal. 

Aquamarine,” a woozy and cinematic song featuring skittering hi-hat, thumping beats and squiggling bursts paired with a soaring hook from acclaimed British soul artist Micheal Kiwanuka. The production is a lush and roomy bed for Black Thought’s imitable, hard-hitting bars. “For ‘Aquamarine,’ when I heard the music I just had a feeling to sing about standing up for something that’s unique and following that path”, Kiwanuka says. “I don’t know why but that’s what came out.  Sometimes when you’re following something that’s unique to you it’s as if ‘enemies are all around’. At times life can feel fragile like ‘everything’s burning down’. For some reason the chords and music made me feel that way.”  

“Strangers,” the last single off Cheat Codes before its release, is a neck-snapping banger featuring four of the dopest emcees out there right now — Black Thought, A$AP Rocky and Run The Jewels spitting flames on a woozy and dusty production and glitchy centered around tweeter and woofer rattling beats, sampled, B-movie-like dialogue, soulful vocals. 

“We were honored to get down with our elite and legendary friends Danger Mouse, Black Thought and A$AP Rocky on this banger,” Run the Jewels say in press notes. 

I’ve said this before, and I’m not bullshitting here: Cheat Codes may arguably be the best hip-hop album — and possibly, the best album — of this year. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

Continuing the duo’s ongoing visual collaboration with video production team UNCANNY, the accompanying, grainy black and white visual is a wild rollercoaster ride that sees each of the song’s four incredible emcees, Black Thought, A$AP Rocky, Killer Mike, and El-P passing the mic — or in this case their phones for them to spit fire. The video captures the song’s urgency and dusty glitchy vibe.

After teasing their first new bit of music in over nine — nine! — years, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Karen O. (vocals), Nick Zinner (keys, guitar, drum machine, bass) and Brian Chase (drums) — announced their long-awaited and highly anticipated fifth album, Cool It Down last month.

Cool It Down is slated for a September 30, 2022 release through Secretly Canadian and features cover photography by Alex Prager. The eight-song album reportedly is an expert distillation of the band’s gifts and will impel the listener to move, cry and listen closely. 

“To all who have waited, our dear fans, thank you, our fever to tell has returned, and writing these songs came with its fair share of chills, tears, and euphoria when the pain lifts and truth is revealed, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O wrote in a statement to the band’s fans. “Don’t have to tell you how much we’ve been going through in the last nine years since our last record, because you’ve been going through it too, and we love you and we see you, and we hope you feel the feels from the music we’ve made. No shying away from the feels, or backing down from what’s been gripping all of us these days. So yes we’ve taken our time, happy to report when it’s ready it really does just flow out.”

“The record is called Cool It Down which is snagged from a lesser known Velvet Underground song. I told Alex Prager whose photo graces our record cover that her image speaks to sweeping themes in the music and sums up how I, Karen, feel existentially in these times! But there’s always more to the story. This is how our new story begins, we present to you with heads bowed and fists in the air ‘Spitting Off the Edge of the World’ featuring Perfume Genius.

Cool It Down‘s first single, the Dave Sitek-produced “Spitting Off the Edge of the World,” featuring Perfume Genius is a slow-burning and cathartic power ballad centered around glistening and droning synths, Chase’s thunderous drumming, a distortion-driven guitar solo by Zinner, arena rock friendly hooks paired with the lush interplay between Karen O’s and Perfume Genius imitable vocals. Sonically “Spiting Off The Edge of the World” to my ears sounds like a slick yet subtle synthesis of Show Your Bones and It’s Blitz — and as a result, the song is simultaneously urgent yet an exercise in restraint. 

Lyrically, the song reflects on the current state of the environment, and the need for honesty about the damage we’re inflicting on the Earth. “I see the younger generations staring down this threat, and they’re standing on the edge of a precipice, confronting what’s coming with anger and defiant,” Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O explains. “It’s galvanizing and there’s hope there.” 

The album’s second single., the Andrew Wyatt-produced “Burning” is a dance floor anthem built over a twinkling piano loop inspired by The Four Seasons’ “Beggin'” and features Zinner’s fiery guitar sprawl, thumping beats, Chase’s funky drum patterns pared with Karen O’s imitable croons and shouts. The song captures the Karen O being engulfed in the tumult and unrest of Los Angeles in 2020 — with fire and smoke bearing down on the city and everything its in path. Sonically, the song sounds like a subtle refinement of It’s Blitz!-era YYYs that nods at Fever to Tell.

“Back when I was 19 living in the East Village, one night a roommate dragged me out of the apartment for an impromptu drink across the street,” Karen O writes. “I left a votive candle burning on a plastic yaffa block which, in my absence set flame to my room. Within an hour and-a half of having one drink down the block, firefighters had come and gone extinguishing the fire. I came home to find that a natural disaster had occurred (to my room) and most of my stuff, lost in the flames. All electronic goods were melted and demolished like my laptop, cameras etc. but oddly enough the items that held the most sentimental value remained intact like sketchbooks, a favorite sweater with hearts across the chest, and photographs. I had photos of my parents in their youth where the fire burnt around the two of them as if there was some intangible force field protecting them, many photos like that, mysteriously leaving the beloved subjects untouched.”

If the world is on fire I hope the most beloved stay protected and that we do all we can to protect what we cherish most in this life. ‘Burning’ is a song about that feeling, smoke signals for the soul. Begging to cool it down, just doing it the best we know how. Nick and I nodded to Frankie Valli’s ‘Begging’, with the line ‘oooh lay your red hand on me baby.’ We’ve cut a rug to many a soulful sixties bangers in our day, it was in our DNA by the time we wrote ‘Burning’.”

The trio are in a middle of a handful of summer and fall dates that includes a highly anticipated October 1, 2022 stop at Forest Hills Stadium. Check out the remaining tour dates below. 

Tour Dates

September 18: Riot Fest @ Chicago, IL

October 1: Forest Hills Stadium @ New York, NY [Special Guest TBA, The Linda Linda]

October 6: Hollywood Bowl @ Los Angeles, CA [Japanese Breakfast, The Linda Lindas]

Danger Mouse (born Brian Burton) is arguably one of the most versatile and prolific artists and producers in music right now: As an artist he has been one-half of Broken Bells and Grammy Award-winning Gnarls Barkley. He has recorded collaborative albums with  Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ Karen O and the late, legendary MF DOOM. As a producer, he has worked with AdeleU2The Black KeysGorillazRed Hot Chili PeppersMichael KiwanukaParquet Courts and a lengthy list of others. 

Black Thought (born Tariq Trotter) is a co-founder and frontman of Grammy Award winning, pioneering hip-hop act The Roots. Trotter is also an accomplished solo artist who has released a critically applauded album and two EPs: 2020’s Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Able and 2018’s Streams of Thought Vol. 1 EP and Streams of Thought Vol. 2 EP, which helped further his reputation among the cognoscenti — and real hip hop heads — as one of the dopest emcees to ever spit bars. Adding to a lengthy list of accolades and accomplishments, Trotter has acted in film and theater, along with having writing and producer credits.

The acclaimed duo’s long-rumored, long-awaited and highly-anticipated joint album Cheat Codes is slated for a Friday release through BMG. While Cheat Codes simultaneously marks Danger Mouse’s first hip-hop album since 2005’s DANGERDOOM with MF DOOM and the follow-up to Black Thoughts’ solo trilogy Streams of Thought, their collaboration can be traced back almost almost 20 years earlier: Trotter and Burton first met back in 2005. They started working on material — but time went on, life happened, other projects and obligations came up. 

Following 2004’s acclaimed The Grey Album, Burton became one of the most in-demand and prolific producers of the day, helming several commercially and critically successful projects, which led to a bevy of accolades and awards. He also developed collaborations with a unique and eclectic array of artists while expanding upon and honing his own musicianship, production and writing. 

During that same period of time, The Roots released a batch of critically applauded albums and became the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon then The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Trotter released his aforementioned, critically applauded solo trilogy Streams of Thought. He collaborated with the likes of EminemJohn LegendPusha T.Griselda, and a list of others. He wrote, composed and starred in the widely-praised off-Broadway show Black No More. And adding to a lengthy list of accomplishments, he co-produced a TV series with his Roots bandmate Questlove

Each mistakenly thought that the other had moved on and their collaboration just died, but as it turned out, neither one never stopped wanting to work together. Burton had long felt an instinctive need to return to his roots and make a timeless hip-hop album. He knew that Trotter was one of the few emcees truly capable of fulfilling that vision. Simultaneously, Trotter was seeking a space, where he could express himself musically and creatively beyond the confines and structures of his own band. 

This time, Burton was a far more seasoned songwriter and producer, Trotter an even more extraordinary emcee.  So, setting aside all distractions, Burton played Trotter some new music he had had. The ideas and words quickly flowed — and the experience was liberating. 

Meticulously built over a period of several years, Cheat Codes reportedly finds Burton pushing widescreen, soul-infused hip-hop soundscapes to new directions paired with Trotter’s commanding presence, incisive lyricism and dexterous wordplay. Unlike the typical producer-meets-rapper/side project, Cheat Codes is an effort between two like-minded collaborators, who raise each other’s games to new heights. 

The album also features an equally acclaimed cast of guests including A$AP Rocky, Run The Jewels, MF DOOM, Michael Kiwanuka, Joey Bada$$RussRaekwon, and Conway the Machine

So far I’ve written about three Cheat Codes singles: 

No Gold Teeth,” which featured a warm and dusty psych soul-like production that brings RZAPete Rock, and DJ Premier to mind, that serves as a lush bed for Black Thought’s dense, rapid fire, lyrical deluge. 

Because,” which features a slow-burning, psych soul-inspired production paired with a vocal hook by Dylan Cartlidge. While being another example of the deep and uncannily innate simpatico shared between the two acclaimed collaborators, “Because” is chock full of dope bars, impressive wordplay and mind-blowing inner and outer rhyme schemes in an easy-going yet urgent cypher between Black Thought, Joey Bada$$ and Russ, that weaves in and out of the political and the personal. 

Aquamarine,” a woozy and cinematic song featuring skittering hi-hat, thumping beats and squiggling bursts paired with a soaring hook from acclaimed British soul artist Micheal Kiwanuka. The production is a lush and roomy bed for Black Thought’s imitable, hard-hitting bars. “For ‘Aquamarine,’ when I heard the music I just had a feeling to sing about standing up for something that’s unique and following that path”, Kiwanuka says. “I don’t know why but that’s what came out.  Sometimes when you’re following something that’s unique to you it’s as if ‘enemies are all around’. At times life can feel fragile like ‘everything’s burning down’. For some reason the chords and music made me feel that way.”  

“Strangers,” the last single off Cheat Codes before its release, is a neck-snapping banger featuring four of the dopest emcees out there right now — Black Thought, A$AP Rocky and Run The Jewels spitting flames on a woozy and dusty production and glitchy centered around tweeter and woofer rattling beats, sampled, B-movie-like dialogue, soulful vocals.

“We were honored to get down with our elite and legendary friends Danger Mouse, Black Thought and A$AP Rocky on this banger,” Run the Jewels say in press notes.

I’ve said this before, and I’m not bullshitting here: Cheat Codes may arguably be the best hip-hop album — and possibly, the best album — of this year. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

New Video: Danger Mouse and Black Thought Team up with Michael Kiwanuka on a Woozy Banger

Danger Mouse (born Brian Burton) is arguably one of the most versatile and prolific artists and producers in music right now: As an artist he has been one-half of Broken Bells and Grammy Award-winning Gnarls Barkley. He has recorded collaborative albums  Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ Karen O and the late, legendary MF DOOM. As a producer, he has worked with AdeleU2The Black KeysGorillazRed Hot Chili PeppersMichael KiwanukaParquet Courts and a lengthy list of others. 

Black Thought (born Tariq Trotter) is a co-founder and frontman of Grammy Award winning, pioneering hip-hop act The Roots. Trotter is also an accomplished solo artist who has released a critically applauded album and two EPs: 2020’s Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Able and 2018’s Streams of Thought Vol. 1 EP and Streams of Thought Vol. 2 EP, which helped further his reputation among the cognoscenti — and real hip hop heads — as one of the dopest emcees to ever spit bars. Adding to a lengthy list of accolades and accomplishments, Trotter has acted in film and theater, along with having writing and producer credits.

The acclaimed duo’s long-rumored, long-awaited and highly-anticipated joint album Cheat Codes is slated for an August 12, 2022 release through BMG. While Cheat Codes simultaneously marks Danger Mouse’s first hip-hop album since 2005’s DANGERDOOM with MF DOOM and the follow-up to Black Thoughts’ solo trilogy Streams of Thought, their collaboration can be traced back almost almost 20 years earlier: Trotter and Burton first met back in 2005. They started working on material — but time went on, life happened, other projects and obligations came up. 

Following 2004’s acclaimed The Grey Album, Burton became one of the most in-demand and prolific producers of the day, helming several commercially and critically successful projects, which led to a bevy of accolades and awards. He also developed collaborations with a unique and eclectic array of artists while expanding upon and honing his own musicianship, production and writing. 

During that same period of time, The Roots released a batch of critically applauded albums and became the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon then The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Trotter released his aforementioned, critically applauded solo trilogy Streams of Thought. He collaborated with the likes of EminemJohn LegendPusha T.Griselda, and a list of others. He wrote, composed and starred in the widely-praised off Broadway show Black No More. And adding to a lengthy list of accomplishments, he co-produced a TV series with his Roots bandmate Questlove

Each mistakenly thought that the other had moved on and their collaboration just died, but as it turned out, neither one never stopped wanting to work together. Burton had long felt an instinctive need to return to his roots and make a timeless hip-hop album. He knew that Trotter was one of the few emcees truly capable of fulfilling that vision. Simultaneously, Trotter was seeking a space, where he could express himself musically and creatively beyond the confines and structures of his own band. 

This time, Burton was a far more seasoned songwriter and producer, Trotter an even more extraordinary emcee.  So, setting aside all distractions, Burton played Trotter some new music he had had. The ideas and words quickly flowed — and the experience was liberating. 

Meticulously built over a period of several years, Cheat Codes reportedly finds Burton pushing widescreen, soul-infused hip-hop soundscapes to new directions paired with Trotter’s commanding presence, incisive lyricism and dexterous wordplay. Unlike the typical producer-meets-rapper/side project, Cheat Codes is an effort between two like-minded collaborators, who raise each other’s games to new heights. 

The album also features an equally acclaimed cast of guests including A$AP Rocky,Run The Jewels, MF DOOM, Michael Kiwanuka, Joey Bada$$RussRaekwon, and Conway the Machine

So far I’ve written about two Cheat Codes singles:

No Gold Teeth,” which featured a warm and dusty psych soul-like production that brings RZAPete Rock, and DJ Premier to mind, the production serves as a lush bed for Black Thought’s dense, rapid fire, lyrical deluge. 

“Because,” which features a slow-burning, psych soul-inspired production paired with a vocal hook by Dylan Cartlidge. While being another example of the deep and uncannily innate simpatico shared between the two acclaimed collaborators, “Because” is chock full of dope bars, impressive wordplay and mind-blowing inner and outer rhyme schemes in an easy-going yet urgent cypher between Black Thought, Joey Bada$$ and Russ, that weaves in and out of the political and the personal. 

“I’ve always been a big fan of Black Thought and Danger Mouse. I think Black Thought is one of the greatest rappers ever, so when they asked me to get on this record, it was a no-brainer, plus the record is fire!” Joey Bada$$ says of his contribution to “Because.” “I still remember the first time I heard ‘You Got Me,’ the video was shot on my great-grandmother’s block and I was actually there that day when I was a child. It changed the way I looked at music. I’m very honored to be a part of this track. We’re making history!”

“Being able to collaborate with one of the greatest lyricists of all time is an honor and to do it in unison with Danger Mouse is something I’m just really proud to be a part of,” Russ added. 

Cheat Codes‘ third and latest single, the swaggering “Aquamarine” is an atmospheric yet soulful bop centered around a woozy and cinematic production featuring skittering hi-hat, thumping beats and squiggling bursts of guitar. The production serves as a lush bed for Black Thought’s hard-hitting, densely worded bars and a soaring hook from acclaimed, British soul artist Michael Kiwanuka.

“For ‘Aquamarine,’ when I heard the music I just had a feeling to sing about standing up for something that’s unique and following that path”, Kiwanuka says. “I don’t know why but that’s what came out.  Sometimes when you’re following something that’s unique to you it’s as if ‘enemies are all around’. At times life can feel fragile like ‘everything’s burning down’. For some reason the chords and music made me feel that way.”  

British production duo UNCANNY contributes a visual for “Aquamarine,” that captures the three artists in a kaleidoscopic and feverish light.

New Video: Danger Mouse and Black Thought Share a Woozy Visual for Their Collab with Joey Bada$$, Russ and Dylan Cartlidge

Danger Mouse (born Brian Burton) is arguably one of the most versatile and prolific artists and producers in music right now: As an artist he has been one-half of Broken Bells and Grammy Award-winning Gnarls Barkley. He has recorded collaborative albums  Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ Karen O and the late, legendary MF DOOM. As a producer, he has worked with AdeleU2The Black KeysGorillazRed Hot Chili PeppersMichael KiwanukaParquet Courts and a lengthy list of others. 

Black Thought (born Tariq Trotter) is a co-founder and frontman of Grammy Award winning and pioneering hip-hop act The Roots. Trotter is also an accomplished solo artist who has released a critically applauded album and two EPs: 2020’s Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Able and 2018’s Streams of Thought Vol. 1 EP and Streams of Thought Vol. 2 EP, which helped further his reputation among the cognoscenti as one of the dopest emcees to ever spit bars. Adding to a lengthy list of accolades and accomplishments, Trotter has acted in film and theater, along with having writing and producer credits.

The acclaimed duo’s long-rumored, long-awaited and highly-anticipated joint album Cheat Codes is slated for an August 12, 2022 release through BMG. While Cheat Codes simultaneously marks Danger Mouse’s first hip-hop album since 2005’s DANGERDOOM with MF DOOM and the follow-up to Black Thoughts’ solo trilogy Streams of Thought, their collaboration can be traced back almost almost 20 years earlier: Trotter and Burton first met back in 2005. They started working on material — but time went on, life happened, other projects and obligations came up. 

Following 2004’s acclaimed The Grey Album, Burton became one of the most in-demand and prolific producers of the day, helming several commercially and critically successful projects, which led to a bevy of accolades and awards. He also developed collaborations with a unique and eclectic array of artists while expanding upon and honing his own musicianship, production and writing. 

During that same period of time, The Roots released a batch of critically applauded albums and became the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon then The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Trotter released his aforementioned, critically applauded solo trilogy Streams of Thought. He collaborated with the likes of EminemJohn LegendPusha T.Griselda, and a list of others. He wrote, composed and starred in the widely-praised off Broadway show Black No More. And adding to a lengthy list of accomplishments, he co-produced a TV series with his Roots bandmate Questlove

Each mistakenly thought that the other had moved on and their collaboration just died, but as it turned out, neither one never stopped wanting to work together. Burton had long felt an instinctive need to return to his roots and make a timeless hip-hop album. He knew that Trotter was one of the few emcees truly capable of fulfilling that vision. Simultaneously, Trotter was seeking a space, where he could express himself musically and creatively beyond the confines and structures of his own band. 

This time, Burton was a far more seasoned songwriter and producer, Trotter an even more extraordinary emcee.  So, setting aside all distractions, Burton played Trotter some new music he had had. The ideas and words quickly flowed — and the experience was liberating. 

Meticulously built over a period of several years, Cheat Codes reportedly finds Burton pushing widescreen, soul-infused hip-hop soundscapes to new directions paired with Trotter’s commanding presence, incisive lyricism and dexterous wordplay. Unlike the typical producer-meets-rapper/side project, Cheat Codes is an effort between two like-minded collaborators, who raise each other’s games to new heights. 

The album also features an equally acclaimed cast of guests including A$AP Rocky, Run The Jewels, MF DOOM, Michael Kiwanuka, Joey Bada$$RussRaekwon, and Conway the Machine

Earlier this year, I wrote about Cheat Codes‘ first single “No Gold Teeth.” Centered around a warm, dusty, piano, bass and squiggly guitar driven psych soul-like production that will bring RZAPete Rock, and DJ Premier to mind, the production serves as a lush bed for Black Thought’s dense, rapid fire, lyrical deluge. 

“Because,” Cheat Codes‘ second single is centered around a lush, slow-burning psych soul-inspired production paired with a vocal hook by Dylan Cartlidge. While being another example of the deep and uncannily innate simpatico shared between the two acclaimed collaborators, “Because” is chock full of dope bars, impressive wordplay and mind-blowing inner and outer rhyme schemes in an easy-going yet urgent cypher between Black Thought, Joey Bada$$ and Russ, that weaves in and out of the political and the personal. 

“I’ve always been a big fan of Black Thought and Danger Mouse. I think Black Thought is one of the greatest rappers ever, so when they asked me to get on this record, it was a no-brainer, plus the record is fire!” Joey Bada$$ says of his contribution to “Because.” “I still remember the first time I heard ‘You Got Me,’ the video was shot on my great-grandmother’s block and I was actually there that day when I was a child. It changed the way I looked at music. I’m very honored to be a part of this track. We’re making history!”

“Being able to collaborate with one of the greatest lyricists of all time is an honor and to do it in unison with Danger Mouse is something I’m just really proud to be a part of,” Russ added. 

From the album’s first two singles, Cheat Codes may well be the hip-hop album of the year.

The accompanying video continues the pair’s ongoing visual collaboration with UNCANNY. The video is shot from the perspective of a pedestrian within a 3D rending of Times Square with each of the song’s artists taking over the screens and billboards while performing their verses. Shot in a single, continuous take, the video is a mix of real footage and AI altered imagery — and feels like a fever dream.

New Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs Team Up with Perfume Genius on an Urgent Power Ballad

After teasing their first new bit of music in over nine — nine! — years, the Yeah Yeah YeahsKaren O. (vocals), Nick Zinner (keys, guitar, drum machine, bass) and Brian Chase (drums) — recently announced their long-awaited and highly anticipated fifth album, Cool It Down.

The forthcoming album is slated for a September 30, 2022 release through Secretly Canadian and features cover photography by Alex Prager. The eight-song album reportedly is an expert distillation of the band’s gifts and will impel the listener to move, cry and listen closely.

“To all who have waited, our dear fans, thank you, our fever to tell has returned, and writing these songs came with its fair share of chills, tears, and euphoria when the pain lifts and truth is revealed, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O writes in a statement to the band’s fans. “Don’t have to tell you how much we’ve been going through in the last nine years since our last record, because you’ve been going through it too, and we love you and we see you, and we hope you feel the feels from the music we’ve made. No shying away from the feels, or backing down from what’s been gripping all of us these days. So yes we’ve taken our time, happy to report when it’s ready it really does just flow out.”

“The record is called Cool It Down which is snagged from a lesser known Velvet Underground song. I told Alex Prager whose photo graces our record cover that her image speaks to sweeping themes in the music and sums up how I, Karen, feel existentially in these times! But there’s always more to the story. This is how our new story begins, we present to you with heads bowed and fists in the air ‘Spitting Off the Edge of the World’ featuring Perfume Genius.

Cool It Down‘s first single, the Dave Sitek-produced “Spitting Off the Edge of the World,” featuring Perfume Genius is a slow-burning and cathartic power ballad centered around glistening and droning synths, Chase’s thunderous drumming, a distortion-driven guitar solo by Zinner, arena rock friendly hooks paired with the lush interplay between Karen O’s and Perfume Genius imitable vocals. Sonically “Spiting Off The Edge” to my ears sounds like a slick yet subtle synthesis of Show Your Bones and It’s Blitz — and as a result, the song is simultaneously urgent yet an exercise in restraint.

Lyrically, the song reflects on the current state of the environment, and the need for honesty about the damage we’re inflicting on the Earth. “I see the younger generations staring down this threat, and they’re standing on the edge of a precipice, confronting what’s coming with anger and defiant,” Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O explains. “It’s galvanizing and there’s hope there.”

The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s longtime collaborator Cody Critcheloe a.k.a. Ssion, who designed the cover art for Fever To Tell, and who also directed Perfume Genius’ “Queen” directed the accompanying video which stars Perfume Genius as an avenging angel limo driver to Karen O’s desert rebel queen.

“A note on this video, it’s a dream collaboration with one of our favorite artists of the 21st century Cody Critcheloe who did the artwork for our first record back in 2003 and has been making visionary music videos for the last decade,” Karen O notes. “The time to collaborate again came with ‘Spitting,’ the shoot in Kansas City was dream-like, the dreams you have after eating something really greasy right before bed; bizarre, poetic, and intense. Perfume Genius was incredibly gracious to roll in the very cold mud as my co pilot and steal scene after scene with his surreal charm.  We trusted Cody implicitly, he surpassed expectations and gave us our November Rain. YYY’s spirit is alive and well through the eyes of Cody Critcheloe. Custom Yeahs limo was largely his handiwork, fueled on love.”

New Video: Danger Mouse and Black Thought Team Up for a Banger

Born Brian Burton, Danger Mouse is arguably one of the most versatile and prolific artists and producers in music right now: As an artist he’s one-half of Broken Bells and Gnarls Barkley and has recorded collaborative albums with Yeah Yeah YeahsKaren O and the late, legendary MF DOOM. As a producer, he’s worked with Adele, U2, The Black Keys, Gorillaz, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Michael Kiwanuka, Parquet Courts and a lengthy list of others.

Born Tariq Trotter, Black Thought is a co-founder and frontman of The Roots. Trotter is an accomplished solo artist who has released a critically applauded album and two EPs: 2020’s Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Abel and 2018’s Streams of Thought Vol. 1 EP and Streams of Thought Vol. 2 EP. While considered by the cognoscenti as one of the dopest emcees to ever do it, Trotter has also acted in film and theater. And has producer and writing credits.

Their long-awaited joint album together Cheat Codes is slated for an August 12, 2022 release through BMG. While Cheat Codes marks Danger Mouse’s first hip-hop album since 2005’s DANGERDOOM with MF and the follow-up to Black Thoughts’ solo trilogy Streams of Thought, their collaboration can be traced back almost almost 20 years: Trotter and Burton first met back in 2005. They started working on material — but time went on, life happened, other projects and obligations came up.

Following 2004’s The Grey Album, Burton became one of the most in-demand and prolific producers of the day, helming several commercially and critically successful projects, which led to a bevy of accolades and awards. He also developed collaborations with a unique and eclectic array of artists while expanding upon and honing his own musicianship, production and writing.

During that same period of time, The Roots released some critically applauded albums and became the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon then The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Trotter released his aforementioned, critically applauded solo trilogy Streams of Thought. He collaborated with the likes of Eminem, John Legend, Pusha T., Griselda, and a list of others. He wrote, composed and starred in the widely-praised off Broadway show Black No More. And adding to a lengthy list of accomplishments, he co-produced a TV series with his Roots bandmate Questlove.

Each mistakenly thought that the other had moved on and their collaboration just died, but as it turned out neither ever stopped wanting to work together. Burton felt an instinctive pull to go back to his roots and make a timeless hip-hop album. He knew that Trotter was the only emcee capable of fulfilling that vision. Simultaneously, Trotter was seeking a space, where he could express himself musically and creatively beyond the confines and structures of his own band.

This time, Burton was a far more seasoned songwriter and producer, Trotter an even more extraordinary emcee.  So, setting aside all distractions, Burton played Trotter some new music he had had. The ideas and words quickly flowed — and the experience was liberating.

Meticulously built over a period of several years, Cheat Codes reportedly finds Burton pushing widescreen, soul-infused hip-hop soundscapes to new directions paired with Trotter’s commanding presence, incisive lyricism and dexterous wordplay. Unlike the typical producer-meets-rapper/side project, Cheat Codes is an effort between two like-minded collaborators, who raise each other’s games to new heights.

The album also features an equally acclaimed cast of guests including A$AP Rocky, Run The Jewels, MF DOOM, Michael Kiwanuka, Joey Bada$$, Russ, Raekwon, and Conway the Machine.

Cheat Codes‘ first single “No Gold Teeth” is centered around a warm and dusty old school, psychedelic soul production that to my ears is a slick synthesis of RZA, Pete Rock, and DJ Premier. The production serves as a lush bed for Black Thought’s rapid fire, lyrical deluge. This is that real hip-hop: dope emcees spitting flames over dope beats.

Directed by UNCANNY, the UK-based creative duo of George Muncey and Elliot Elder, the accompanying video is a hypnotic and mind-bending collage of machine learning-created images superimposed over Black Thought’s head.

Live Footage: Deep Sea Diver on NPR Tiny Desk (at Home)

Led by its accomplished, Los Angeles-born, Seattle-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and frontperson Jessica Dobson, the Seattle-based indie rock act Deep Sea Diver can trace its origins back to when Dobson was 19: Dobson, who has had stints  playing with a who’s who list of contemporary acts, including Beck, Conor Oberst, Spoon, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Shins signed with Atlantic Records. And while with Atlantic Records, Dobson wrote and recorded two albums that she wasn’t completely satisfied with — and Atlantic ultimately shelved the material and dropped her from the label.

After leaving Atlantic, Dobson wrote and recorded her official solo debut EP New Caves under the name Deep Sea Diver. The project expanded to a full-fledged band with the addition of John Raines (bass) Dobson’s spouse Peter Mansen (drums), Garrett Gue (bass), and Elliot Jackson (guitar, synth), who helped to flesh out the project’s sound. The band went on to release two albums and an EP — 2012’s self-released debut History Speaks, 2014’s Always Waiting EP and 2016’s acclaimed Secrets.

Last October saw the release of the band’s critically applauded third album Impossible Weight through High Beam Records/ATO Records, and the album followed after a busy year of touring with Wilco and Joseph. Sonically and thematically, the album stemmed from a period of sometimes brutal self-examination — a process that began for Dobson, not long after Deep Sea Diver finished touring to support Secrets. “We went into the studio pretty quickly after the tour ended, and I sort of hit a wall where I was feeling very detached from making music, and unable to find joy in it,” Dobson recalls in press notes. “I realized I had to try to rediscover my voice as a songwriter, and figure out the vocabulary for what I needed to say on this album.”

Stepping back from music and the studio, Dobson focused on dealing with the depression she had been struggling with, and soon started volunteering for Aurora Commons, a drop-in center for unhoused people, most whom are drug-dependent and frequently engage in street-survival-based sex work. “I spent a lot of time with the women who frequent the Commons, and it taught me a new depth of empathy,” she says. “They’re people who don’t have the luxury of going back to a home at the end of the day and hiding behind those four walls, so they’re sort of forced to be vulnerable with what their needs are. Talking with them and listening to them really freed me up to start writing about things I’d never written about before in my songs.”

Co-produced by Dobson and Andy D. Park and recorded at Seattle’s Studio X and The Hall of Justice, Impossible Weight finds Dobson and company digging far deeper emotionally than ever before — and pairing it with a bigger, more grandiose sound. While revealing Dobson’s dexterous and powerful guitar work, the album’s lush textures and mercurial arrangements allow room for Dobson to fully demonstrate her vocal range in a way that she hadn’t before. “’I’d never produced a record before and I started out with low expectations for myself, but at some point I realized, ‘I can do this,’” Dobson recalls. “I decided to completely trust my voice and make really bold decisions in all my production calls—just push everything to the absolute outer edges.”

Interestingly, for Dobson redefining the limits of her artistry goes hand-in-hand with deeper identity issues that came up while Dobson and her bandmates were working on the album. “I was adopted and just recently met my birth mother, and found out that I’m half-Mexican and half-Jewish,” Deep Sea Diver’s frontperson explains. “Discovering my heritage and learning things about myself that I never knew before really fed into that question of ‘Where do I belong?’” Simultaneously, Dobson rediscovered the sense of possibility, adventure and joy that she first felt when she started out as a 19 year-old.  “I think being signed at such a young age messed me up in terms of the expectations I put on myself,” she says. “Somewhere along the way I lost confidence in my own vision, but after making this record I feel a much larger freedom to go in whatever direction I want with my music.”

With Impossible Weight, Dobson hopes that others might reclaim a similar sense of freedom in their emotional lives. “Especially right now when the world is in disarray and there’s so much fear, I want this record to give people room to feel whatever they need to feel,” she says. “I hope it helps them recognize that it’s okay to fall apart, and that they’re meant to let others in instead of trying to work through everything on their own. Because the point is that the impossible weight isn’t yours to carry alone—that’s why it’s impossible.”

Now, if you were following this site last year — bless you for that, seriously — you may recall that I wrote about a couple of the album’s singles:

“Lights Out,”  a track that contained multitudes, as it was deviant and anthemic yet delicate. Centered around Dobson’s expressive guitar work, a thunderous rhythm section an enormous raise-your-beer-in-the-air-and-shout-along worthy hook and Dobson’s equally expressive vocals, the song featured a bold and fearlessly vulnerable, who seems to say to the listener “It’s okay to admit that you’re not okay and that you may need some help to get you out of life’s dark places.”
Album title track “Impossible Weight,” a track that’s one-part New Wave and one-part arena rock with enormous hooks, twinkling synths, Dobson’s expressive and explosive guitar work rooted in heart-fully-on-sleeve songwriting. And while revealing Dobson’s unerring knack for crafting an anthemic hook, the song captures a narrator on the emotional brink with an novelistic attention to psychological detail. A guest spot from Sharon Van Etten, managed to add an additional emotional punch.

Deep Sea Diver recently filmed a NPR Tiny Desk (at Home) Concert in a space that the band built to recreate the iconic Red Room in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.  “There were countless times this past year that I wanted to be transported out of my house and into a different world,” says frontwoman Jessica Dobson. “One of my favorite and most inspiring worlds is that of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, which was filmed very close to where I live in Washington.The band is joined by Joseph’s Natalie Schepman and Megan Closner, who contribute backing vocals for three songs of the live set — and there’s a guest appearance from Dobson’s adorable beagle Henry, “the one being that was happy we weren’t touring,” Dobson says.

The live set features joyous and heartfelt versions of the aforementioned “Lights Out” and “Impossible Weight,” as well as “Wishing” and the standalone single “Stop Pretending,” which was named one of NPR Music’s 100 Best Songs of 2020 — and evokes the despair and unease we’ve all felt over the past year or so.